Southampton 2 – 1 Blackpool. Romain Perraud scored either side of half-time as Southampton survived a fightback by Championship strugglers Blackpool to reach the FA Cup fifth round.
Perraud, on set-piece duties in the absence of captain James Ward-Prowse, broke the deadlock with a thumping effort into the far corner midway through the first half.
The 25-year-old left-back doubled his and Saints’ tally just after the hour mark, collecting Sekou Mara’s return pass before finishing confidently past visiting goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.
Blackpool, playing their first game under new manager Mick McCarthy, twice went close to cancelling out Perraud’s opener but Jerry Yates and Ian Poveda both failed to make the most of good opportunities.
Arsenal loanee Charlie Patino converted Yates’ pass to reduce the arrears with just under 25 minutes left, but Nathan Jones’ team held on.
“We were in control at 2-0 but sometimes we don’t do the basics right,” Jones told BBC Sport afterward. “We caused our own problems.
“On the whole, we have been good, but today we probably made it harder for ourselves.”
Saints, who are through to the fifth round for the third time in four seasons, will discover their opponents when the draw is made on Monday, 30 January.
Comfortable winners over Nottingham Forest in the previous round, Blackpool restricted Southampton to few early opportunities but will be disappointed with the manner of Saints’ opener – which McCarthy described as an “absolute disgrace” in his post-match interview with BBC Sport.
Mislav Orsic, who was standing over the free-kick alongside Perraud, produced a dummy that appeared to catch Maxwell off guard, allowing his team-mate to slam the ball through the Seasiders’ wall into the corner.
The Frenchman is the first player other than James Ward-Prowse to score a direct free-kick for the club since Cedric Soares against Manchester United in December 2018.
“Today I had a chance to be clinical,” Perraud, whose four goals this season have all been at St Mary’s, told BBC Sport.
“It’s never easy to play against this type of team. The FA Cup is a tough competition, but this is another step and it feels good for us.”
The visitors responded well to Perraud’s opener and were denied a first-half equaliser when Caballero produced a fingertip save to deny Yates, who was left unmarked from Poveda’s pass.
Some overly casual Southampton defending gifted Poveda a free run at goal early in the second half, but Caballero stood tall to save his chipped effort before watching the Blackpool attacker’s follow-up sail wide of the far post.
Perraud’s second of the game appeared to end the Seasiders’ hopes of a second successive victory over Premier League opposition, but McCarthy’s team refused to give up and pulled a goal back when Patino sidefooted Yates’ square pass into the net from deep inside the box.
The visitors applied heavy pressure in the latter stages but were unable to make the most of a flurry of corners in second-half stoppage time.
Despite his team’s patchy performance, Jones will be delighted to return to winning ways after successive 1-0 defeats and can now switch his attention to Saints’ Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Newcastle on Tuesday.
source – BBC